State Leaders to Push School Reopenings

The Virginia Department of Education today released new guidance aimed at getting the commonwealth’s K-12 students back in the classroom. And, they could be in the classroom even longer this year if divisions opt to extend the school year or pivot to year-round calendars.

Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement as part of a briefing on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. 

He said the new guidance represents a shift from a position that it may be best for schools to be closed during the pandemic to one that schools should be open. 

“If you look at the data, schools are very safe. It’s the communities that we worry about,” Northam said. 

The new policies encourage school divisions to focus on classroom mitigation strategies to ensure the safety of teachers, staff and students, rather than on the level the virus’ spread in the community. Similar to a strategy under development by the Loudoun County School Board, the new state policies call on administrators to look for outbreaks at the classroom or school level.

Northam said it was important for students to go back to the classroom.

“Children are hurting right now. Families are hurting,” he said. 

Pointing to falling test scores as evidence that students are falling behind in a distance learning environment, Northam said local school leaders may decide to expand the school year or consider year-round schools. 

Although Loudoun’s School Board has been pushing to accelerate vaccinations for educators as part of its back-to-school plan, Northam said that wasn’t necessary as adherence to mitigation strategies have proven to create safe classroom environments. 

In a letter to school division superintendents, State Health Director Dr. M. Norman Oliver and Superintendent of Public Instruction James F. Lane noted that even with careful planning and preparation, COVID cases will continue to appear. 

“It is not possible to eliminate all risk of disease in community settings, such as schools. Students and staff most at risk of serious complications from COVID-19 should continue to have remote learning and working options,” they wrote. “But the risks of not opening schools need to be carefully considered and given proper weight. Long-term school closures as a mitigation strategy for COVID-19 transmission may cause inadvertent harm to children; for example, children who do not have in-person instruction may suffer learning loss with long-term effects, mental health issues, or a potential regression in social skills.” 

11 thoughts on “State Leaders to Push School Reopenings

  • 2021-01-14 at 4:09 pm

    The (D)’s have ignored the science for the better part of a year. What suddenly changed?

    • 2021-01-18 at 12:38 am

      The “better part of a year”? Democrats have NEVER followed science. They falsely claim to do so but they are incapable of understanding science, data, logic or research. On any issue, they put out fake news.

  • 2021-01-14 at 4:23 pm

    The push behind this is from a bi-partisan group of senators. The governor is merely showboating.

  • 2021-01-14 at 5:31 pm

    For all the hysteria around COVID, this is a sound policy statement. Logic prevailed over the teacher’s unions demands. Whodathunk?

  • 2021-01-15 at 9:24 am

    Funny how all these Dem Governors(MI, VA, NY, NJ…) are finally calling for the opening of schools and the economy. The virus and all the useless lockdowns have been politically based, not science based from the beginning.

  • 2021-01-15 at 1:16 pm

    Amazing. Just like that, an about face. What changed so fast? Jan 20.

  • 2021-01-15 at 3:21 pm

    Harrison Street, Richmond, Washington — They lied to us the entire time. Elected ‘officials’ and their health department “experts,” need to be held accountable for the pain, economic devastation, mental anguish, and most critically, what they did to our children.

    Now, they can’t even get the vaccine distribution right without total incompetence on display. They think we should be thanking them. Hold them accountable.

  • 2021-01-15 at 5:17 pm

    The question is will Loudoun Board of Supervisors support Northam or will they continue to be ignorant as they have all along and not force the schools to open. I have said it all along, we are not helping our kids succeed with virtual learning. If the public schools were smart they would learn from the private schools which have remained open during the pandemic. The smart parents will keep their children in the private schools and not return to public schools. as I have said before, now it the time for school vouchers.

  • 2021-01-15 at 10:09 pm

    It’s too late. The teachers have already brainwashed most of the students into not returning this school year. My daughter is a senior in LCPS and she and her friends had been begging to return to school, but the teachers must have been afraid they would prevail so they launched an all out campaign to convince the kids that the school year would never be like it used to be/should be. They told the kids horror stories of how the new way of life would be no fun at all, so my daughter and all her friends decided not to return if given a choice. What a shame.

    • 2021-01-18 at 12:41 am

      I have said this for a long time. This profession, teachers, are some of the most selfish, greedy, ignorant folks you will ever meet. They do not care about kids. They care only about themselves and even other adults (their colleagues) more than kids. COVID merely pulled the veil back.

  • 2021-01-17 at 8:21 am

    According to John Hopkins Report the daily Covid death rate was about 5 times higher yesterday than in early summer when it was too unsafe to have schools open. Should we petition for the word altruism to be taken out of the dictionary? 🙂 Schools were never as unsafe as politicians made it seem given this disease is affecting people no longer working or even teaching to a far greater extent than the general population and rarely children. When hypocrisy is this obvious can we talk to our neighbors about the need to vote in local and statewide elections. Doesn’t this behavior get embarrassing at some point to all of us? 🙂

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